Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Are Madison's "Local Joe Liebermans"

The Democratic Party of Dane County had a very interesting and contentious membership meeting Wednesday night. We voted on endorsements for most of the local spring races, and over two hundred people turned out for a January meeting that usually has pretty low attendance. The majority of those there were part of two opposing efforts to pack the meeting. One side was organized by the Dem Party establishment, and the other largely by Alderman Austin King.

Disclosure: As a vice-chair of the Dane Dems, I am by definition part of the Dem Party establishment, although as a strong-party Democrat I often find myself at odds with much of the rest of the establishment.

Two unopposed Madison Common Council members, Zach Brandon and Lauren Cnare, both of whom are quite conservative by Madison standards, were denied endorsements despite the recommendation of the Dem Party leadership. So Zach and Lauren earned the rather dubious distinction of being referred to as "...our local Joe Liebermans" by Common Council President Austin King. Several other endorsements recommended by the Party leadership also failed, although they were in races where more than one Dem was running.

In the end the two opposing groups largely canceled each other out, and the endorsement votes probably turned out exactly the same as they would have if neither side had packed the meeting. Because an endorsement requires a two-thirds vote, which is a pretty high hurdle, almost every endorsement that faces a challenge fails.

So despite all the drama, the results on Wednesday are probably an accurate reflection of the will of the Dane Dems membership. We just took a somewhat roundabout path to get there.